spiritual grammar

I have been thinking about the primary questions of life: who, what, when, where, how and why. These questions unleash the truth of any situation, idea, or creed. Police use them to reconstruct a crime or crime scene, CEOs use them to challenge the validity of a new product, elementary school students use them to discover the meaning behind a sentence or paragraph, and scientists use them to analyze processes and substances. These questions are the foundation of the modern age.

We also use these questions in belief. Who led the Israelites through the Red Sea? Moses. When did Pharoah let the Israelites leave? After God killed the firstborn of Egypt. What is the color of my true love’s hair? Wait a minute . . . wrong post.

You get the idea. The same thing goes whether the faith system is Christianity, Islam, or any other religion. They are the language of taste, touch and feel.

These questions are completely appropriate for human experience and existence, but what about God? Can these questions illuminate him as they illuminate so much of the human experience?

Example: God says, “I will remember your sins no more.” If God is all knowing, can he forget something, or is he simply talking about making a choice to set aside our sins because of Christ and not “remember” them when he thinks of us? Every systematic theology has an answer for this, but my question is, Can one say definitively HOW God does this? God does give us hints throughout Scripture on this issue and so many more, but God does not lay out a blow by blow description of how his omniscience and grace coincide and cooperate. We have to embrace some mystery.

God says in Isaiah, “My ways are not your ways, neither are your thoughts my thoughts.” We get into trouble when we attempt to describe God using human terms and tools. He is “other,” and we should be willing to grasp a little mystery. Search Scripture for sure; Solomon said it is the glory of kings to search out a matter. “I don’t know” could be the best answer to some questions of God, however.

Ultimately, if you can describe God completely using the scientific method (who, what, when, where, how, why), you suddenly have no God at all. Embrace the mystery of faith in a God you cannot completely explain, and suddenly your faith will have life, because we cannot give life to an idea on our own. Allowing God to be God allows him to fuel your faith, rather than trying to charge up your spiritual car on human batteries. A car can run on batteries, but it’s nothing like the real thing, baby. ūüôā

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mysterious God

Ever met anyone who had it all figured out?  Did their attitude bug you?  How about the used-to-be-friend who went to see a movie you have been waiting anxiously to see and then told you the ending to the movie before you could stop them?

What do these things have in common?  The mystery is gone.  Life is nothing without a little mystery, movies lose much of their interest (at least for me) if we know the details of the ending, and the same goes true for God.  The moment you decide you know everything about God he has ceased to be God.  You never know how deep the rabbit hole will go, they say.  The same is true with God.  You will never get to the bottom of who he is.  If you bring him down to your level then he is, well, not up there where he is supposed to be in your view of him.  ( I know, very profound.  That statement will end up in some systematic theology somewhere).

If you ever hear someone say that they have finally figured God out, turn and run.  Aside from the absolutes of the holiness of God, the deity of Christ and the good news, we have many points of belief which we will never really understand until we reach heaven.  Even then, God never promised to explain everything to us.

Cultivate a humble attitude towards the knowledge of God, and everything else, for that matter. ¬†You don’t know it all, and life is more beautiful with a little mystery.

P.S. Bonus for the rest of us: You are a lot less annoying if you do not act like a know-it-all.